09 th July, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Dipa Karmakar’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Ace gymnast Dipa Karmakar, who missed the Rio Olympics bronze medal by a whisker, took the women’s vault gold medal and claimed the fourth place in balance beam in the Mersin World Challenge Cup
Dipa, who topped the vault qualification with 13.4, improved her performance by a few notches to garner 14.15 points and secure the top honor in her pet event.
‘World’s largest mobile factory’ (GS1: Factors responsible for location of industries in India)
Issue: Consumer electronics major, Samsung, has put the name of Noida in Uttar Pradesh on the top of the world map by housing the biggest mobile manufacturing facility in the northern Indian city.
Some facts about the new facility
- The electronics giant announced a Rs 4,915-crore investment plan to expand the Noida facility. In a year’s time, the new facility is ready for production, which the double output for the company.
- The company currently manufactures 67 million smartphones in India. With the new plant coming into operation, it is expected to manufacture nearly 120 million mobile devices.
- At present, India attributes to 10 percent of overall production capacity of Samsung. Through this plant, Samsung aims to take it to 50 percent over the next three years.
- Samsung is expected to create 15,000 jobs through the new manufacturing unit.
‘Moon and Mars in July 2018’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: The last days of July 2018 bring a double delight for sky lovers, amateurs and astronomers.
The celestial events taking place:
- On July 27, India and many other countries will observe the longest total lunar eclipse of the century around midnight Indian Standard Time. Moon will be under Earth’s shadow and totally eclipsed for one hour and 43 minutes! Days later another spectacular celestial event is to enthrall and excite millions of people around the world.
- Mars will be closest to Earth since 2003 on July 31. The Red Planet will be at its brightest since August 2003, when Mars made its closest approach to Earth in almost 60,000 years (since September 24, 57,617 BC).
What is Lunar Eclipse?
Lunar eclipses occur when Earth’s shadow blocks the sun’s light, which otherwise reflects off the moon. There are three types — total, partial and penumbral — with the most dramatic being a total lunar eclipse, in which Earth’s shadow completely covers the moon
A lunar eclipse can occur only at full moon. A total lunar eclipse can happen only when the sun, Earth and moon are perfectly lined up — anything less than perfection creates a partial lunar eclipse or no eclipse at all.
Earth casts two shadows that fall on the moon during a lunar eclipse: The umbra is a full, dark shadow. The penumbra is a partial outer shadow. The moon passes through these shadows in stages. The initial and final stages — when the moon is in the penumbral shadow — are not so noticeable, so the best part of an eclipse is during the middle of the event, when the moon is in the umbral shadow.
The moon may turn red or coppery colored during the total portion of an eclipse. The red moon is possible because while the moon is in total shadow, some light from the sun passes through Earth’s atmosphere and is bent toward the moon. While other colors in the spectrum are blocked and scattered by Earth’s atmosphere, red light tends to make it through easier.
About Mars being closest to Earth
- Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, orbits the Sun at a greater distance than Earth. As the distance from the Sun increases, the orbital period increases, too. While Earth takes a little more than 365 days to go round the Sun, Mars takes 687 days.
- Because of the difference of the orbital speed and the orbital period, every 26 months or so, Earth passes between Mars and the Sun, bringing the two on exactly opposite sides of our planet. This is called Mars at opposition.
- This year Mars will be at its opposition on July 27, only 51 days before it passes through its perihelion – its closest point relative to the Sun in its orbit. Since it will be quite close to Earth by that time, it will appear very bright and will be visible roughly after sunset and will remain in the sky till sunrise.
- Because of the elliptical orbits of the planets, Earth and Mars come close to each other around the time of opposition. The closest approach of Mars this time will be on July 31 and it will look brighter and bigger than it has been since August 2003. The Red Planet’s next closest approach, though not as close as on 2003, will not occur till 2035. Mars will come closer to Earth than it was in 2003 only in 2287 (August 29).
‘World Bank’ (GS2: Multilateral institutions)
Issue: Global debt is becoming a bigger worry as the global policy tightening cycle takes hold, a top boss at the World Bank warned
After a decade of low interest rates, the corporate and public debt in many places has ballooned to a staggering $164 trillion
World debt, including household debt, ballooned to $237 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to calculations by the Washington-based Institute for International Finance. That’s more than $70 trillion higher than a decade ago.
‘Bharatmala’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: The central government is expected to launch seven greenfield projects to construct 3,000km of expressways under the ₹ 5.35 trillion Bharatmala scheme
About the project
In the first phase, the road network is set to connect Delhi-Vadodara, Chennai-Salem in Tamil Nadu, Kharagpur-Siliguri in West Bengal, Delhi-Bilaspur, Durg-Aurang in Chhattisgarh, Mangaluru-Chitradurga in Karnataka and Ambala-Kathputli in Haryana.
The longest stretch of 1,000km will be built between Delhi and Vadodara.
About Bharatmala programme
Bharatmala Pariyojana is an umbrella programme for the highways sector under the ministry of road transport and highways, which focuses on optimizing efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country.
The programme aims to bridge critical infrastructure gaps by developing economic corridors, inter-corridors and feeder routes, besides improving national corridor efficiency, border and international connectivity roads, coastal and port connectivity roads and Greenfield expressways.
Under the first phase of the Bharatmala project, 24,800km of roads and highways will be built over five years for an estimated cost of ₹ 5.35 trillion.
‘Simultaneous polls’ (GS2: Parliament and state legislature)
Issue: Political parties were divided on the issue of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections during consultations with the Law Commission of India.
As many as nine parties expressed their reservations while four parties supported the move.
Concerns raised by opposition parties regarding simultaneous elections
- Some parties were strongly opposed to simultaneous elections and argued that the move was against “basic tenets of the Constitution.”
- Others believed it was incompatible with the Constitution and impracticable.
- Article 83(2) and Article 172 of the Constitution requires that the Lok Sabha and State legislatures be in existence for five years from the date of its first meeting, “unless dissolved earlier”. Simultaneous elections ignore this phrase, as there would be no opportunity to dissolve Lok Sabha or State Assemblies.
- A government can be in power as long as it enjoys the confidence of Parliament. Simultaneous elections can work only if governments last for a fixed tenure of five years regardless of confidence of Parliament. It negates the concept of ‘no confidence motion’ – an important tool for legislative control over the executive.
- Simultaneous elections will relegate local issues or issues of state importance to the background. This completely ignores the diversity of the country.
Advantages of Simultaneous elections
- The cost of an election has two components – one, expenditure incurred by the Election Commission and two, expenditure incurred by the political parties. A large number of government employees and public buildings are diverted from their regular responsibilities for election duties. Supporters of the simultaneous elections argue that it will reduce election expenditure in terms of finance and reduce diversion of human resources for election duties.
- Model Code of Conduct (MCC) comes into operation during election season. MCC is seen as an obstacle to the government service delivery mechanism. Simultaneous elections may reduce such disruption.
- During elections, political convenience takes precedence over public interest. To lure voters, political parties concede to popular demands without any consideration to public interest. Simultaneous elections reduce such opportunity for political parties.
- Simultaneous election promotes national perspective over the regional perspective. This is important for the unity of the country.
- Simultaneous elections bring States on par with the Center. If the elections are to be held simultaneously once in five years, the elected state governments cannot be dismissed easily. This reduces the anomalies created by the Article 356 (President’s Rule) of the Indian constitution and hence, it strengthens federalism.
- The simultaneous election once in five years provides stability to the governments. It allows the government to take difficult and harsh decision in larger public interest.
‘Floods in Japan’ (GS3: Disaster Management)
Issue: Rescuers in western Japan dug through mud and rubble on Monday, racing to find survivors after torrential rains unleashed floods and landslides that killed more than 100 people, with dozens missing
The death toll reached at least 109 after floodwaters forced several million from their homes
The Sendai Framework is a 15-year; voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders. It aims for the following outcome:
The substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.
The Sendai Framework is the successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters. It is the outcome of stakeholder consultations initiated in March 2012 and inter-governmental negotiations held from July 2014 to March 2015
The Seven Global Targets
(a) Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030, aiming to lower average per 100,000 global mortality rate in the decade 2020-2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
(b) Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030, aiming to lower average global figure per 100,000 in the decade 2020 -2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
(c) Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.
(d) Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030.
(e) Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020.
(f) Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this Framework by 2030.
(g) Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.
The Four Priorities for Action
Priority 1: Understanding disaster risk
Disaster risk management should be based on an understanding of disaster risk in all its dimensions of vulnerability, capacity, exposure of persons and assets, hazard characteristics and the environment. Such knowledge can be used for risk assessment, prevention, mitigation, preparedness and response.
Priority 2: Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk
Disaster risk governance at the national, regional and global levels is very important for prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and rehabilitation. It fosters collaboration and partnership.
Priority 3: Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience
Public and private investment in disaster risk prevention and reduction through structural and non-structural measures are essential to enhance the economic, social, health and cultural resilience of persons, communities, countries and their assets, as well as the environment.
Priority 4: Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction
The growth of disaster risk means there is a need to strengthen disaster preparedness for response, take action in anticipation of events, and ensure capacities are in place for effective response and recovery at all levels. The recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction phase is a critical opportunity to build back better, including through integrating disaster risk reduction into development measures.
‘The English Patient’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Michael Ondaatje’s “The English Patient” was named the greatest-ever winner of the Man Booker Prize at an event celebrating five decades of the prestigious literary award.
About Booker Prize Award
The Man Booker Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Booker–McConnell Prize and commonly known simply as the Booker Prize) is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original novel written in the English language and published in the UK.
Since its inception, the prize has been awarded to numerous writers from India or of Indian descent.
- S. Naipaul, ‘In a Free State’
- Salman Rushdie, ‘Midnight’s Children’
- Arundhati Roy, ‘The God of Small Things’
- Kiran Desai, ‘The Inheritance of Loss’
- Aravind Adiga, ‘The White Tiger’
‘Formalin’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: As many as 11 out of 30 samples of fish species purchased from two major fish markets in Chennai, on two different days, have tested positive for formalin, a cancer-inducing chemical used illegally to preserve fish.
A low-cost formalin detection kit developed by researchers of the State-run University was used to test the samples for ascertaining if they contained the carcinogen that is used widely as a preservative and disinfectant.
‘Moisture Stress’ (GS3: Indian Agriculture)
Issue: Behind the ‘normal’ rainfall figures and the optimism of this year’s rainfall lies a deeper worry: moisture evaporating from the soil due to the erratic nature of the rains.
The Moisture Adequacy Index (MAI), which tabulates the rates of evapo-transpiration and gives an estimate of the moisture stress in the soil, shows that nearly 55% of the State’s (Karnataka) soil is either moderately or severe stressed (moisture content in the soil is less than half of what is required).
Significance of this finding
Under these conditions, paddy and other crops will start to experience losses if these are already cultivated.
‘Reserve Bank of India’ (GS2: Regulatory Agency)
Issue: In a move aimed at widening the crackdown on black money and following the money trail flowing in and out of thousands of shell companies, the Centre is planning to set up an information technology (IT)-based mechanism to keep a tab on all non-cash, financial transactions in the country.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had been asked to develop the IT infrastructure for this purpose.
Current mechanism to track illegal transactions
Under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, banks and financial institutions are already required to alert the Financial Intelligence Unit, under the Finance Ministry, to any suspicious transactions, cash or otherwise. Cash transactions of more than ₹10 lakh (including a series of transactions integrally connected to each other and exceeding ₹10 lakh in a month), need to be reported to the FIU.
‘Public Sector Banks’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Public sector banks are planning to tap the markets to raise more than ₹ 50,000 crore this fiscal to shore up their capital base for business growth and meeting regulatory global risk norms.
Out of 21 public sector banks, 13 have already taken the approval of their boards or shareholders for raising capital through the equity market
The combined value of the share sale of these banks is upwards of ₹50,000 crore.
Need for share sale
Capital is very much required for these banks as they are saddled with non-performing assets (NPAs) of about ₹10 lakh crore.
‘Bad Bank’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The limited success of the current NPA resolution framework and its mechanisms calls for new forms of institutions which will be effective in dealing with the current Non-Performing Assets (NPA) crisis.
Why the need of this institution?
- The principle of separation of good and bad assets. The separation of bad asset helps the banks to focus on their business expansion.
- Maximum recovery and hence minimum burden or cost on the banks or the government.
Methods of financing this institution
- equity injection by the government
- special loans from the central bank
- Asset management Company (AMC) bonds
- Public offering of shares.
International experience suggests that the success of the AMC will depend on three critical conditions: first, there should be a clear distinction between the bad and good assets (in other words, the definition of a bad asset has to be followed strictly; second, over time, the economy should bounce back to high growth trajectory; third, preventive measures must be in place so that every new loan that is disbursed does not become an NPA too soon.